Thursday, July 28, 2022

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshios Matos & Maasei

Since there are no Rabbi Frand shiurim on the Parsha until Elul, I would like to substitute a vort from other Rabbanim each week, rather than leaving the blog without a vort for shabbos. This week, I am attempting to repeat a vort heard from R' Shraga Kallus as recorded on torahanytime.com (https://www.torahanytime.com/#/lectures?a=198896). Same rules as usual apply - I have attempted to reproduce the vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to the maggid shiur.

There is a curious exchange between Moshe and the members of the tribes of Gad and Reuvein. Moshe tells them in Bamidbar 32:6 that if they want the land on the other side of the Jordan River, they must go to war to conquer the land of Israel, stating -  הַֽאַחֵיכֶ֗ם יָבֹ֨אוּ֙ לַמִּלְחָמָ֔ה וְאַתֶּ֖ם תֵּ֥שְׁבוּ פֹֽה. In response, the members of the tribes say we will go fight, stating in 32:17 - וַֽאֲנַ֜חְנוּ נֵֽחָלֵ֣ץ חֻשִׁ֗ים לִפְנֵי֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל עַ֛ד אֲשֶׁ֥ר אִם־הֲבִֽיאֹנֻ֖ם אֶל־מְקוֹמָ֑ם. And then in 32:18 - לֹ֥א נָשׁ֖וּב אֶל־בָּתֵּ֑ינוּ עַ֗ד הִתְנַחֵל֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אִ֖ישׁ נַֽחֲלָתֽוֹ.

But for some reason, Moshe is unwilling to accept this and he responds to them in 32:23, if you don't go  -  וְאִם־לֹ֤א תַֽעֲשׂוּן֙ כֵּ֔ן הִנֵּ֥ה חֲטָאתֶ֖ם לַֽיהֹוָ֑ה וּדְעוּ֙ חַטַּאתְכֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר תִּמְצָ֖א אֶתְכֶֽם. Why does Moshe again tell them that they must go?

R' Kallus answered by quoting R' Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld who is doresh in the pesukim. When they  say in 32:17 וַֽאֲנַ֜חְנוּ נֵֽחָלֵ֣ץ חֻשִׁ֗ים, they don't mention Hashem, they don't say B'Ezras Hashem. To this Moshe responds numerous times with words that indicate that its Hashem who will go with you, saying in 32:20 אִם־תֵּחָֽלְצ֛וּ לִפְנֵ֥י יְהֹוָ֖ה לַמִּלְחָמָֽה and in 32:21 - וְעָבַ֨ר לָכֶ֧ם כָּל־חָל֛וּץ אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֖ן לִפְנֵ֣י יְהֹוָ֑ה and in 32:22 וְנִכְבְּשָׁ֨ה הָאָ֜רֶץ לִפְנֵ֤י יְהֹוָה֙. He then says in 32:23 - וְאִם־לֹ֤א תַֽעֲשׂוּן֙ כֵּ֔ן הִנֵּ֥ה חֲטָאתֶ֖ם לַֽיהֹוָ֑ה - if you don't do it this way with a cognizance that Hashem is involved וְאִם־לֹ֤א תַֽעֲשׂוּן֙ כֵּ֔ן הִנֵּ֥ה חֲטָאתֶ֖ם לַֽיהֹוָ֑ה.

We see that they did get the message, stating in 32:31 - וַיַּֽעֲנ֧וּ בְנֵי־גָ֛ד וּבְנֵ֥י רְאוּבֵ֖ן לֵאמֹ֑ר אֵת֩ אֲשֶׁ֨ר דִּבֶּ֧ר יְהֹוָ֛ה אֶל־עֲבָדֶ֖יךָ כֵּ֥ן נַֽעֲשֶֽׂה  - they recognize that they are doing what Hashem commanded Moshe.

R' Kallus quoted a Medrash which states that Eliyahu HaNavi met a man in the marketplace. He asked him where are you going? The man responded, I am going to buy oxen to plow in the field. Eliyahu says - say B'Ezras Hashem. The man responded, I have the money, I am going. But he did not get there as he was mugged and lost his money.

The man went home and got more money and again encountered Eliyahu. He was again asked where he was going and he said, to buy oxen. Again, Eliyahu said - say B'Ezras Hashem and again the man said - I already have my money and it was again taken away from him. 

This repeated itself three times, but on the fourth time when he encountered Eliyahu he said - I am going Im Yirtzeh Hashem. This time he was successful and even was able to recover all his lost money.

We sometimes hear people say that they are doing things with invoking Hashem or even when they do, without meaning what they are saying. We need to do more than just say Thank You Hashem, we need to feel that all that we do is because of Hashem.

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Thursday, July 21, 2022

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Pinchas

The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

R' Frand began the shiur by asking - what practical lesson can we learn from Pinchas? B'H we will not be faced with the spectacle that occurred. And in order to be a Kana'i like Pinchas, one's motives must be pure beyond question!

R' Frand quoted the Sefer Maor HaParsha by Rabbi Luban who opined that there is a practical lesson. A person can at some point find himself in a situation where something needs to be done. He could say to himself, who am I to be the one to step forward and do this? I am not a great person. But we learn from Pinchas that there are times when no one is stepping up and someone needs to do something. Pinchas looked and saw the Nasi of the tribe of Shimon who was doing something very wrong on a public stage. While Pinchas was not a great man at the time (he was even made fun of afterwards as a descendent on idol worshippers). But still, he stepped up and acted.

R' Frand underscored this point by noting the Medrash Rabbah which writes that 12 miracles were performed for Pinchas in order for him to be successful. On a basic level - consider that had Zimri turned around and killed Pinchas, Zimri would not have been punished. And consider the strength needed to pick up a spear which had impaled two people.

But Pinchas did not consider himself or his own stature and abilities. He acted and we should draw a lesson from him.

R' Frand connected with this with the story of the daughers of Tzelophad. They approached Moshe when they thought that the halacha was incorrect. R' Frand painted a picture - consider a Beis Ya'akov girl who approaches R' Moshe Feinstein ZTL and tells him that she thinks he is wrongly deciding a halacha.

Rashi comments that when they approached Moshe he had forgotten the halacha and Hashem said to him - they are correct, this halacha is written in my Torah in Heaven. They saw what Moshe did not see and knew that they were correct. 

Much like Pinchas, they did not say - who are we to step up?

R' Frand then tied this in to the Haftorah where Yirmiyahu receives a prophecy. He responds - who am I, I am a Na'ar. To this Hashem responds - don't say that you are a Na'ar, what I tell you, you will repeat. Like Moshe who said - who am I to go to Pharaoh, Hashem told Yirmiyahu he needed to act and not think about whether he was "great" enough to act.

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Thursday, July 14, 2022

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Balak

The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

In Bamidbar 22:21, the Torah states וַיָּ֤קָם בִּלְעָם֙ בַּבֹּ֔קֶר וַיַּֽחֲב֖שׁ אֶת־אֲתֹנ֑וֹ - Bilaam got up in the morning and saddled his donkey. Rashi writes that from this we see how much hatred overcomes a person. Bilaam was a wealthy man and had many servants who could have saddled the donkey for him. But due to his overwhelming hatred of the Jews, he did it himself. Hashem calls Bilaam a Rasha for this as Avraham had already demonstrated his enthusiasm for mitzvos by saddling his own donkey, many generations previously.

R' Frand quoted R' Moshe Feinstein who remarked that a Jew needs to be careful in showing his own enthusiasm for mitzvos in comparison with non-Jews. They will get up early in the morning to tailgate outside a stadium or arrive early for a rock concert because they are such fanatical enthusiasts. We must do the same for mitzvos and not complain about having to get up early for davening or Selichos.

R' Frand quoted a vort said over in the name of the Chofetz Chaim (I did not catch the name of the speaker, only that the Alter Zeide was unhappy with the vort) that when Ya'akov said to Esav in Bereishis 32:5 - עִם־לָבָ֣ן גַּ֔רְתִּ which Rashi famously teaches meant that Ya'akov said when he lived with Lavan he did not learn from Esav's evil ways - it was actually a lament. Yaa'kov was saying - I saw Lavan and his enthusiasm for making money, but I did not learn from him and do mitzvos with the same fervor.

R' Frand said a second vort on Bilaam's apology in Bamidbar 22:35 where he states that he sinned because he did not realize the angel was in the road. He quoted the Shelah who asked - why was there a reason to apologize? If he did not realize the angel was there what did he do wrong that required an apology? The Shelah answers that a person will have an event occur which is clearly from Hashem and a message to him. Hashem allowed the donkey to speak, but Bilaam did not contemplate the miraculous nature of the incident and instead engaged in a conversation with the donkey. The fact that he did not stop and realize that there was a message from Hashem being sent through this miracle was the reason that he needed to apologize.

R' Frand closed the vort by quoting the Chofetz Chaim who observed that there are no gaps (pesuchos or stumos) in the parsha. Chazal teach that these were present generally to give Moshe an opportunity to stop and contemplate what he was being taught. But not here - this was all a straight miracle that Hashem had saved the Jews from Bilaam's plot, so there was not a reason for him to stop in the middle and think about it.

Yet Bilaam himself did not draw a lesson from this as at the end of the parsha, Bilaam returns to his land and his evil ways...

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Thursday, July 7, 2022

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Chukas

The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

R' Frand began his first vort by noting that after Aharon's death, the Annanei HaKavod returned shortly thereafter in the zechus of Moshe. But after Miriam's death, the well did not return immediately. But why was this different?

R' Frand answered by quoting the Klei Yakar who notes that after Aharon died the Torah writes that all of the Jewish people cried for thirty days. Similarly after Moshe died in Parshas V'Zos HaBeracha, the Torah writes that the Jewish people cried (although not all of the Jewish people, like when Aharon died).

But after Miriam dies, the Torah does not disclose any crying or mourning. Because the Jews did not mourn the death of this righteous woman, the well needed to cease providing water. R' Frand said that we learn from this that if we don't appreciate someone when they are here, Hashem may give us a reason to feel after the person died that we did not properly appreciate that person in his lifetime. Since the Jews did not appreciate Miriam, Hashem gave then a reason to feel her loss.

The second vort related to the Jews complaints about the Manna. Specifically, why should they have complained about this miraculous food which tasted like whatever they desired and was so efficiently processed by their bodies that there was no waste to be exrcreted?

R' Frand answered by quoting the Gemara in Yoma which asks - why did the Manna not fall just once a year? The Gemara answers with a parable about a king who used to give his son a year's worth of food annually. The son would come visit his father only that one time per year and it distressed the king, so he required his son to come daily for food.

The Jewish people's complaint about the Manna was that it did not last beyond the day it fell (outside of Shabbos & Yom Tov) so they were dependent on gathering it every day. This required them to be reliant on Hashem and to be careful in their actions so that the Manna would continue to be there for them...and they were not happy about that. After all, the other nations of the world had food without this daily stress.

R' Frand said that the Meforshim say that the Jews were punished with the snakes. The snake in Bereishis was given a curse that it would eat dirt. Seemingly this was not a curse as it had all the food that it wanted. But it also meant that Hashem did not want to see the snake. The Jews similarly wanted to be independent from needing Hashem like the snake, so they were punished with snakes.

The final vort related to the pasuk in Bamidbar 21:27 - עַל־כֵּ֛ן יֹֽאמְר֥וּ הַמּֽשְׁלִ֖ים בֹּ֣אוּ חֶשְׁבּ֑וֹן. R' Frand remarked that Sichon was riding high, because he thought that he had been Moshel on Moav by capturing their lands. But he did not realize that his conquering of Moav was the precursor to the Jews acquiring this territory, which they were barred from taking from Moav. 

This is the message to the Moshlim - there is an accounting and what you think may be positive may not be in the end.

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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Korach

The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

Rabbi Frand began tonight's vort by quoting Rashi and specifically two different issues raised by Rashi. The first question relates to Rashi's comment on וַיִּקַּ֣ח קֹ֔רַח that Korach made a bad purchase for himself. What did Korach purchase?

The second related to Rashi's mentioning of a Medrash that Korach acted in this manner because he saw that he would merit having the great prophet Shmuel as his descendant. Since Shmuel was of the same stature as Moshe & Aharon, Korach felt that the zechus of having Shmuel as a descendant would protect him from confronting Moshe. The second question R' Frand asked related to Korach's knowledge of Shmuel. If Korach knew this through Ruach HaKodesh, how could be have reached the wrong conclusion?

R' Frand began the answer by quoting the Gemara in Gittin which states that Haman's descendants learned Torah in Bnei Brak. How could this have happened? The Gemara answers that the removal of the ring (in order to seal the decree) was greater than 48 prophets. Why? Because as a result of the removal of the ring, there was a great Teshuva movement. Since Haman was the cause of this Teshuva movement, he merited to have descendants learn Torah.

R' Frand then quoted the Satmar Rebbi who explained that Korach was zoche to have Shmuel as a descendant because he was responsible for everyone learning the lesson of not to challenge Moshe. He made the mistake of thinking that the end result of having Shmuel meant that he could stand up to Moshe but he was wrong in this regard. And he "paid" a high price for his challenging Moshe - being swallowed up by the earth.

R' Frand also said a second vort about Dasan & Aviram. He quoted another Rashi which observed the heavy price of Machlokes. A Beis Din is not allowed to punish until a person becomes a Gadol. The Heavenly Beis Din metes out certain punishment when a person reaches the age of 20. But as result of the Machlokes which was caused, even babies were killed.

R' Frand quoted the Maharal who asks - what sin did they commit when led to the punishment? The answer, according to the sefer Yechi Reuvein, is none. He quoted a Medrash which asks why on the second day of creation the words Ki Tov are not used. The Medrash answers with two different reasons - because Gehennom was created on that day, or because Machlokes was created in that on day two there was separation.

R' Frand stated that there is a connection between the fire of Machlokes and the fire of Gehennom. Once fire is released it does not differentiate - it burns whatever and whomever is in its path. The children who died were not punished - they died because the fire which was started by Machlokes does not differentiate - it can cause death to whomever is involved.

[As we are entering the month of Tammuz, we should IYH merit to being saved from Machlokes].

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Thursday, June 23, 2022

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shelach

The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

R' Frand began tonight's vort by noting how deep and interesting the pasha is because of the episode of the Meraglim. These were all great men as noted by Rashi, but despite their stature, the report they gave of their travels to the land of Canaan caused the 9th of Av to become a day of Bechiyah L'Doros - a day when the Jews will cry for generations due to the many sad events which have happened on the 9th of Av.

R' Frand then discussed how although there were Meraglim from each of the tribes (besides Levi) Moshe only saw fit to give a beracha to Yehoshua, which Rashi teaches us was "Kah Yosheacha M'Atzas HaMeraglim" - loosely translated as Hashem should save you from the plan of the Meraglim.

The famous question is - why did Moshe only daven for Yehoshua?

R' Frand quoted the Sefer Yechi Reuven who had an interesting take on the question. He explains that Yehoshua had a greater Yetzer Hara than all the others and it was for that reason he needed the beracha. This Yetzer Hara was for feeling that he was acting for the sake of Heaven and that for that reason he could do whatever he thought was right, as it was L'Shem Shamayim.

But why was this unique to Yehoshua?

The sefer quoted the Targum Yonasan who writes cryptically that Moshe saw that Yehoshua was an Anav (humble) and that for the reason he needed a blessing.

Where was this seen? R' Frand answered by making reference to last week's parsha. When Eldad & Meidad gave their prophecy that Moshe was going to die and Yehoshua would lead the Jews into the Land of Israel, the reaction of the presumptive new leader would not typically be - Moshe lock them up! The person receiving such news would usually be happy to hear that he would be the leader, but not a humble person like Yehoshua.

Moshe was thus concerned that due to his humility, Yehoshua would be the first in line to speak poorly about the Land of Israel, because he would think that if he did so, the Jews would wander in the desert for 40 years and Moshe would continue to lead them. Even though what he would be saying would not be truthful, Yehoshua would say to himself - this is Lashon Hara for a purpose and therefore permitted, because in so doing I will extend Moshe's lifetime.

It was for this reason that Moshe davened that Yehoshua would be saved from his humility as well as the plot of the Meraglim.

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